A leader in digital transformation, Vivian Chua spent almost half her life in the tech sector. Taking a part-time degree from SIM-RMIT University was one of the first pivotal points in her life as it enabled her to land a job in HP. Her 23-year career in HP spanned from sales to product management, channel marketing and corporate account management. Now, as HP’s Managing Director of Singapore and Cluster Head of Singapore and Malaysia, her responsibilities include driving business and operations for the Singapore and Malaysia markets.
What first sparked your interest in working in the tech industry?
As a technology enthusiast, the choice was clear for me – to join a technology company and pursue my passion. I have long nurtured my curiosity and interest in technology ever since I was a child. Then and now, I am led with a strong belief that technology changes lives through innovative products and services. That passion led me to join the technology sector.
We reckon that the path you took to get where you are today came with risks. What made you want to take the leap of faith?
It was daunting at first, as I wanted to join the male-dominated technology industry without a STEM degree. But I took the leap of faith and went through the process step by step – I rotated through many departments within HP in the first decade I was at the company. My 20-year journey was riddled with challenges and risks, but my passion for technology keeps me going throughout my career at HP.
What were the main challenges you faced while climbing up the ladder and what did you do to overcome these challenges?
The main challenge I faced when I climbed the “technology ladder” was the fact that it was a male-dominated industry. During my first few years, speaking out being one of the very few women in the room was intimidating. I was then just a fresh graduate with a business degree – I didn’t know what to expect in the ever-changing, evolving landscape of technology. I knew I had to prove myself, and that was why I am determined to keep learning – I am constantly hungry for knowledge. I know I need to be proficient with the newest trends and changes to keep up with the competition. Staying hungry and inquisitive was my strategy.
I also experienced various roles and departments early on in my career. That experience helped me hone and diversify my skillsets – so keeping an open mind is also a valuable trait.
Can you share some instances in your current job where you had to overcome a specific challenge?
Shortly after I stepped up and became the Managing Director of HP Singapore in 2020, the pandemic hit. Lockdowns happened: people were forced to work from home, and children embarked on remote learning.
All at once, we had to pivot our business operations online. I decided that we must ensure that we can get our products to our customers who are working at home. Additionally, we aim to facilitate children’s full e-learning journey at home – which back then was not a common pedagogy. The pandemic caused a shift in customer behaviour – they now want an omni-channel shopping experience. We immediately embarked on a Retail Transformation journey to embrace that shift in customer behaviour. Because of the fast and proactive change achieved by the HP team, not only did our business grow during the pandemic, we were also able to build agility into our operations and pivot from offline to online sales – and vice versa. Singapore was going through multiple rounds of tightening and relaxing of COVID management measures – so our sales platform needed to be flexible to accommodate our customers.
Beyond business operations, I made it my priority to continue driving employee engagement through virtual activities. For example, a virtual event for parents was specially designed for children to embark on a project to build their own house with DIY kits. HP Singapore also organised our very own virtual charity shows in 2020 and 2021. Through these virtual charity events, we successfully raised more than S$200,000 over the last two years for the community to facilitate and support underprivileged children to learn from home.
How has the programme that you studied in SIM benefitted you?
I received my Bachelor of Business in Marketing from SIM-RMIT. The coursework I chose was designed for working adults who had to balance school with a full-time job. The programme covered key subjects such as Business Management, Finance and Accounting, Business Law, Product Marketing, Market Research and Buying Behaviour – all are relevant and applicable to my work now.
Over the course of my 23-year journey with HP and through various job roles in general business management, product management or channel marketing, the education and knowledge I obtained from SIM-RMIT remains useful and relevant.
Posted online 20 Jul 2022.